Cattle hit by Belgian dioxin scare

04 June 1999

Cattle hit by Belgian dioxin scare

FEARS are growing in Belgium that contaminated feed might have been given to cattle as well as poultry and pigs.

The UK government has issued a health warning and asked retailers to check all their products for ingredients that might have been affected by the contamination.

Nick Brown, agriculture minister, said he was “pretty confident” any contaminated products imported into the UK could be traced, but added that the failure of Belgian authorities to notify other nations immediately was “scandalous”.

The European Commission was preparing to order the tracing and destruction of cattle and pigs in Europe that may have eaten the contaminated feed. It said it may also have to act on milk and dairy products.

Companies in Germany, France and the Netherlands, as well as Belgium, are thought to be affected through having bought infected feed or animals.

The crisis stems from leak in January of dioxin, a carcinogenic chemical, into products that a fats company supplied to feed manufacturers.

Brussels has already ordered the destruction of all chickens and eggs bought from the infected farms. Some 150 Belgian cattle farms are suspected of having received the infected food, together with 400 poultry farms and 500 pig farms.

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